Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Liturgical Minimalism

Some reflections from Fr. Mark:
The liturgical minimalism and irreverence that have come to characterize the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in so many places have now invaded the rite of exposition and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It was bound to happen. The ethos of Holy Communion received in the hand, of the abusive use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and of the loss of any awareness of sacred space has now overflowed into the cultus of the Most Holy Eucharist outside of Mass.

The rite of exposition and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament is fast becoming the exclusive purview of the laity, and often of the sacristan, or of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. A rite that, in the mind of the Church, is to be solemn, festive, and hierarchically ordered has become something sad, bland, and common. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Henry VIII's Crown Recreated

From History and Other Thoughts.
The lost crown of Henry VIII has been recreated in minute detail, down to the last pearl and thumbnail-sized enamelled sculpture, almost 400 years after the original was melted down along with every scrap of royal regalia Cromwell's government could lay its hands on.

The crown will be exhibited at Hampton Court Palace, where Henry wore the original on great occasions of state and church. It will be displayed in the royal pew of the Chapel Royal, which reopens this month after seven years of restoration work.

The crown may have been made for Henry's father, Henry VII, and was used in the coronations of his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, and then of James I and Charles I. By then it was a sacred object: a portrait by Daniel Mytens in 1631 – now in the National Portrait Gallery, and crucial evidence for the historians who pored over every surviving image and account – shows Charles I standing bare-headed by a velvet-draped table, on which the crown is shown in scrupulous detail.

In 1649 Charles was beheaded in Whitehall and the crown was broken up at the Tower of London. The gold went straight to the mint for coinage, and the jewels were sold off in mixed packets like loose sweets. Of the heap of centuries-old treasures, only one 12th-century spoon escaped the melting pot.

To read the entire article, click here.

Jan Ladislav Dussek's La Mort de Marie Antoinette Performed by Eveliina Kytömäki

From Joshua Snyder. Share

"We Will Come On You In Terror"

She only said what they all really think:
A major Obama donor and donor to the Democrat party (over $120,000 this election cycle) is caught on video saying

"F— you, you Catholics!” Knight bellows over cheers from her audience.

“We will come on you in a terror,” Knight growls in another cut. “We will bring… St. Peter’s temple down and we will swallow it in the sea.” (“St. Peter’s temple” is a reference to the Catholic church itself.)"
The videos are included at the link if you want to see them but I warn you they are vulgar and graphic beyond belief. (Read entire post.)

Via Dymphna. Share

Monday, October 29, 2012

1790: Execution of the Marquis de Favras

From History and Other Thoughts:
On 19th February 1790, Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras made history: he became the first nobleman to be executed without class distinction from commoners. His crime? Trying to save the royal family from the dangers of the French Revolution. Born in 1745 in a noble and ancient family, M. de Favras was a fervent royalist who served in the army with distinction. Although he at first approved the change from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one with a Parliament, he was soon disillusioned with the French Revolution, its violence and its degradation of the royal family. (Read entire post.)

Hugh Capet

Founder of the Capetian dynasty.
His domestic policy was very favourable to the development of monastic life and the autonomy of the monasteries. He defended their property against lay tyranny; he sought to remove them from episcopal jurisdiction while upholding the royal right to confirm abbatial elections; he supported all the liberties of the monks in the exercise of their electoral rights; he renounced the custom of distributing abbeys as benefices to laymen. Because of its political importance he wished to retain effective direction over the Abbey of St. Martin of Tours, and even under the reign of the Plantagenet Henry II the Capetians preserved considerable influence at Tours and along the Middle Loire. Apropos of Hugh Capet it is worthy of note that because the Dukes of France had in their possession the famous cope (cappa) of St. Martin, certain authors give to Hugh the Great and to his son Hugh the surname of Capet, which in history is reserved exclusively for the subject of this article. Hugh Capet in his religious policy applied and favoured the ideas of reform upheld by the monks of Cluny. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Confraternity of Shoemakers

From Nobility:
Saints Crispin and Crispinian are the patrons and models of the pious confraternity of brother shoemakers, an establishment begun by Henry Michael Buch, commonly called Good Henry. His parents were poor day-labourers at Erlon, in the duchy of Luxemburg. Henry was distinguished from his infancy for his parts and extraordinary piety and prudence. He was put apprentice very young to a shoemaker. With the duties of his calling he joined constant devotion and the exercise of all virtues. Sundays and holidays he spent chiefly in the churches, was a great lover of holy prayer, and studied earnestly to know and contemn himself, to mortify his senses and to deny his own will. He took SS. Crispin and Crispinian for his models, and, at his work, had them before his eyes, considering often how they worked with a view purely to please God, and to have an opportunity to convert infidels, and to relieve the poor. It was to him a subject of grief to see many in the same or the like trades ill instructed, slothful in the practice of virtue, and engaged in dangerous or criminal habits; and, by his zealous and prudent exhortations and endeavours, he induced many such to assist diligently at catechism and pious instructions, to shun ale-houses and dangerous company, to frequent the sacraments, to pray devoutly; especially to make every evening acts of faith, hope, divine love, and contrition, and to love only virtuous company, and whatever promoted piety and religion. (Read entire article.)

The Importance of Fathers as Fathers

Cultural misandry will get its payback.
There’s been a strange turn of opinions about fatherhood—at least in recent public debates. Decades of research have now documented the tremendous challenges children face when they grow up without their fathers. But you would never know it by looking at some of the recent public arguments for “genderless parenting.”

So what do the decades of research on fathers say? Boys from fatherless families are twice as likely to end up in prison before age 30. Girls raised in homes without their fathers are much more likely to engage in early sexual behavior and end up pregnant as teenagers—for example, girls whose fathers left home before their daughters turned six are six times more likely to end up pregnant as teenagers. Children who grow up without married mothers and fathers are also more likely to experience depression, behavioral problems, and school expulsion.

There is also more abuse in homes without fathers. In studies of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, fathers living with their children emerge as strong protectors—both through watching over their children’s activities and communicating to others that they will protect them. In one study, abuse was 10 times more likely for children in homes with their mother and an unrelated boyfriend.

These differences can partly be explained by the fact that these children are more likely to grow up in poverty. But that too reveals the importance of dads, as married fathers are the primary breadwinners in almost 70% of married families—providing resources that benefit children in a whole host of ways.

In spite of this evidence, some academics and voices that shape public opinion are asserting that fathers are not, in fact, essential. As two researchers recently argued in a top-tier family science publication, “The gender of parents only matters in ways that don’t matter.” Though it may be important to have two “parental figures,” their genders and relationship to the child don’t matter that much. Fathers—as well as mothers—are supposedly disposable when it comes to their own children’s development.

Not surprisingly, arguments for “genderless parenting” are often based on a particular view of what defines male and female equality. Depending on the definition, one can do what the other can do, and do it just as well, if given the chance. Thus, mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and one or the other gender is unnecessary and replaceable.

It’s easy to see why these claims seem believable. We all know mothers who are breadwinners, and fathers who perform the traditional female role of providing full-time quality child care. And a body of research shows that fathers have both the desire and capacity to be protective, nurturing, affectionate, and responsive with their children. (Read entire article.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Astaires: Fred and Adele

 The Astaires by Kathleen Riley is an engaging double biography of one of the greatest dance teams of all time. While most people are acquainted with Fred Astaire from his long and successful film career, they do not know that before making his first movie he danced on stage for a quarter of a century with his older sister, Adele. Adele was the livelier of the two, the spontaneous one whose jokes and witticisms brought down the house, even as she entranced with her fluid dancing. While Adele was never considered a great beauty, she was in her day the toast of New York and London and had no shortage of beaux. She left the stage to marry Lord Charles Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire, and went to live in a castle in Ireland.

Fred, on the other hand, was the choreographer who carefully planned and endlessly practiced every routine. He was the straight man to Adele's clowning. He wanted to become an accomplished actor as well as a dancer, and so he worked hard to obtain his goal. As a young man he was considered one of the greatest dancers in the world and, in spite of not having typical good looks, he became an icon of elegance and charm for fashionable gentleman. He managed to guide his career through the upheaval of the break-up of his partnership with Adele and eventually marry the woman of his dreams.

According to a review in The Weekly Standard:
Fred’s first and longest-lasting dance partner was his sister Adele, who was two-and-a-half years older than Fred and can be credited with leading him into the dancing life. As the Australian theater historian Kathleen Riley writes in this joint biography, the siblings were, despite highly unlikely circumstances, born to dance. Their parents were Austrian immigrants who settled in Omaha, the father taking work at a brewery and the mother emerging as a model “stage mother” determined to get her children into vaudeville. Adele had been the first to be sent to dance school, and Fred, as Riley notes, “literally followed in her footsteps.”

Driven by their instructor’s -enthusiasm over the siblings’ “gift,” Mrs. Astaire moved the children to New York in 1905, when Fred was 5 and Adele was 8. One of their first appearances on the small-time vaudeville circuit was in a confection called “The Wedding Cake Act,” in which Adele wore a bridal gown and, yes, Fred was costumed in white tie, top hat, and tails.

Since most of us who are Fred and Ginger fans know little about these early chapters of Fred’s life, it is fascinating to learn details about how important a partner Adele was: Riley tells us that she was an exuberant gamine who delighted audiences with her sense of rollicking madcap mischief. She was the one with star quality, while Fred was the workhorse. Even in his youth, he was emerging as a perfectionist intent on getting the steps “just right.” Riley explains that Fred supplied “the creative energy [and] choreographic brilliance” that was the perfect foil to Adele’s radiance.

In his memoir, Steps in Time (1959), Fred describes how “for performers of our age, Adele and I must have been pretty good. But the appeal of our act was that we were a pair of amusing youngsters with a novelty. Maybe they thought we were cute kids.” They experienced middling success, but a high point for Fred came when he was 14 and met the 15-year-old George Gershwin, then earning $15 a week plugging other people’s songs. From the beginning, the boys dreamed of collaborating, and their friendship would soon fuel the rise of a genuinely American musical theater, first on Broadway and later in Hollywood.
 As written in The Guardian:
Over the next eight years the Astaires consolidated their position as theatre superstars, reproducing on Broadway the magic of their London debut. But then suddenly, in 1932, it was over. In a move that neatly symbolised the way the pair had used their chic modernity to conquer the British establishment, Adele married Lord Charles Cavendish, younger son of the Duke of Devonshire and retired to Lismore Castle in Ireland. Left to try Hollywood alone, Fred put down his elegantly-shod foot (he had picked up a Savile Row habit in London) about this whole business of being partnered with Ginger Rogers. His reluctance was to do with the fact that no one could ever match "Delly". The fact that the movie moguls insisted that their new signing would be partnered with Ginger whether he liked it or not speaks volumes about the industry's perception that without his sister, or someone a bit like her, Fred was nothing more than a goofy-looking, slightly sexless, already veteran vaudevillian.

In this sprightly book whose every sentence shines with the author's love of her dual subjects, Kathleen Riley writes Adele back into the story of her brother. A relationship that usually gets squashed into the first three or four chapters of a standard Fred Astaire biography is now given a whole book. This also allows Riley to explore in detail the rich bank of dance practice from which Fred's later work emerged. The Astaires together laid down a library of beats, taps and turns from which Fred would go on to make some of the most sublime physical art of the 20th century.

The Astaires – or the Austerlitzes to give them their real name – have in the past been described as mid-Western and middle-class. Riley's careful foraging, however, reveals a family background far less corn-fed. Their mother was a first-generation German while their father had been born in Vienna to a Jewish family that had pragmatically turned Catholic. Fritz Austerlitz had fetched up in Omaha as a beer salesman, a job that fitted neatly with his growing alcoholism. It was to find a way out of this cramping existence that ambitious Mrs Austerlitz put her daughter on the stage. And since her little boy seemed to have a certain physical wit, he too was enrolled at the local dance school. Within a few years Adele and her sidekick Fred were supporting the family, sending home money to their father in a tactful recognition that he was no longer able to look after himself, let alone them.

That Adele and Fred were able to do this by the time they were barely out of their teens was all down to their extraordinary art. But what that art was exactly is hard to know. While from the mid 1930s we can see Fred's performances on film, there is no moving image of Fred and Adele together, or Adele on her own. And it is this absence of evidence, and the narrative problems it presents, that lie at the heart of Riley's thoughtful investigation. Her book is in part a meditation on the impossibility of capturing a performance, or series of performances, that happened 80 years ago. You can quote from the critics, you can scour letters and diaries for the reactions of people who were in the audience, but you will always be left with a gap, an absence at the heart of your story. Just what it was that made Adele quite so extraordinary will never, finally, quite be clear. All we have is what came after, those amazing recorded performances of her brother making magic with other female dancers.
One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Adele is formally presented to her future in-laws, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. She paused in the doorway and then somersaulted into the room. Sadly, her new life was fraught with tragedy. She endured the loss of all three of her children and loyally took care of an alcoholic husband until he died. The Astaires offers a glimpse into the world of the American musical theater and left me wishing that someone had filmed Adele dancing, just once.

(*NOTE: I borrowed this book from a friend for my own reading pleasure.)


Healthy and Delicious Recipes

From Esther's kitchen. I think the strawberry cupcakes sound particularly good! Share

A Star Falls Over Chicago

Daniel Greenfield has an article which provides the words many Americans have been searching for.
The Obama Campaign was never serious, but it once aspired to an Oprah level of seriousness, to the dignity of the self-help sections where trite observations are recited with great solemnity so that they sound like they must mean more than they do.

For the Northeastern New York Times reader, Obama held out the promise of atonement for the country's grave racial sins. For the San Francisco wind farm executive, he offered the prospect of a presidency that would be one long endless TED talk with plenty of subsidies for the cunning Greenvestor. And the college student would finally have a president who watched the same shows, listened to the same music and got the same jokes making him the perfect Resident Adviser for the country.

Two biographies and four years later those same people have learned that like that party guest who mentions that he's a nuclear physicist, a poet and an explorer of supernatural phenomena, Obama wasn't actually interesting, he just seemed interesting in a cursory sort of way. Obama's biography made him an interesting party guest, but not past a 5 minute chat, and it in no way qualified him to hold the country' top job during an economic crisis and two wars....

Obama does not know how to govern. He does not know how to address the economy or war. The one thing he knows how to do is be popular. That is the one and only skill that he has cultivated in his life. And it is a good skill for a politician, but a politician whose only skill is popularity had better avoid taking responsibility for anything that might make him unpopular.

Popularity is a trend, and like every reality show star still pounding away on Twitter five years later, trying to move their latest CD or comedy club appearance, Oprah's most popular boy toy since Dr. Oz has failed to realize that he is no longer popular, his moment has passed, his relevance is through and no one wants a man whose only skills are on-camera skills to be the one standing between them and economic oblivion. (Read entire article.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Image of Henry VIII

The illustration of a little red-headed boy weeping at the bed of the deceased Queen Elizabeth of York is thought to be one of the earliest portraits of Henry VIII. Interesting that it would show Henry grieving over the death of a Queen of England, in this case his mother. To quote:
Dr Maredudd ap Huw explains, “The manuscript contains an illumination showing the presentation of a volume to a monarch. Two girls wearing black head-dresses are shown in the background, together with a young boy weeping at a black-draped bed. Preliminary investigations suggest that these background figures may be the 13 year old Princess Margaret (later wife of James IV of Scotland), 7 year old Princess Mary (later wife of Louis XII of France), and 11 year old Prince Henry (later king Henry VIII), shortly after the death of their mother in February 1503.”

“We know from other sources that Henry VIII had a cold relationship with his father, but was very close to his mother, ” Dr ap Huw added. “We know that the young Henry was devastated by the death of his mother. This is probably one of the most vulnerable depictions of Henry. It has him in mourning and is different to the later images of him as a swaggering warrior king.” (Read entire article.)


Atlas Shrugged II

I have not seen either film but here are some thoughts on it for those of us who like to keep up with the movie world. To quote:
I liked Atlas Shrugged Part II more than Part I, and in fact, more than the book. I know this will be heresy for Rand Followers, so let me explain.

The weakness of Ayn Rand is that her characters are abstractions. Each character stands for an idea or a type. In a way, this is odd for a champion of individualism: Her characters are not actual individuals, but stereotypes, archetypes, or caricatures. The heroes stand up, give long speeches, and the other characters actually listen. Not too realistic. (Read entire article.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Siege of Belgrade

St. John of Capistrano
An account in honor of heroes who must never be forgotten, in a series of battles which kept Europe from being conquered by the Turks. To quote:
At the end of 1455, after a public reconciliation with all his enemies, Hunyadi began preparations. At his own expense he provisioned and armed the fortress, and, leaving in it a strong garrison under the command of his brother-in-law Mihály Szilágyi and his own eldest son László, he proceeded to form a relief army and a fleet of two hundred corvettes. As no other baron was willing to help (fearing Hunyadi’s growing power more than the Ottoman threat), he was left entirely to his own resources.

A Franciscan friar allied with Hunyadi, St. John of Capistrano, preached a crusade to attract peasants and yeomanry to Hunyadi’s cause. The recruits were ill-armed (many with only slings and scythes) but full of enthusiasm, and they flocked to the standard of Hunyadi, the core of which consisted of a small band of seasoned mercenaries and a few banderia of noble horsemen. All in all, Hunyadi managed to build a force of 25–30,000 men....

On July 14, 1456 Hunyadi arrived to the completely encircled city with his flotilla on the Danube while the Ottoman navy lay astride the Danube River. He broke the naval blockade on July 14, sinking three large Ottoman galleys and capturing four large vessels and 20 smaller ones. By destroying the Sultan’s fleet, Hunyadi was able to transport his troops and much-needed food into the city. The fort’s defense was also reinforced.

But Mehmed II was not willing to end the siege and after a week of heavy artillery bombardment, the walls of the fortress were breached in several places. On July 21 Mehmed II ordered an all-out assault which began at sundown and continued all night. The besieging army flooded the city, and then started its assault on the fort. As this was the most crucial moment of the siege, Hunyadi ordered the defenders to throw tarred wood, and other flammable material, and then set it afire. Soon a wall of flames separated the Janissaries fighting in the city from their comrades trying to breach through the gaps into the upper town. The fierce battle between the encircled Janissaries and Szilágyi’s soldiers inside the upper town was turning in favour of the Christians and the Hungarians managed to beat off the fierce assault from outside the walls. The Janissaries remaining inside the city were thus massacred while the Ottoman troops trying to breach the upper town suffered heavy losses. When an Ottoman soldier almost managed to plant the Sultan’s flag on top of a bastion, a Hungarian knight grabbed him and together they plunged from the wall. (Read entire post.)


Grumpy Old Men

From Scott Richert. I wish atheists would bother to educate themselves about Catholicism before attacking the Church. To quote:
Either Dawkins is a liar, and he knows that what he wrote is a steaming pile of bull—this is anything but "big," Küng is "one of the world's most distinguished theologians" only in his own mind and in that of a few hundred radical nuns and defrocked priests, and the last time he could be considered a "very important Catholic thinker" was before the start of Vatican II, 50 years ago—or he's not nearly as bright as I thought he was. Or, perhaps, he's so blinded by hatred for the Catholic Church and the current Pope that he is able to convince himself that up is down and left is right.

Küng's "exclusive" interview with Miss Connolly got no play outside the Guardian and, and it will have zero effect on the future of the Catholic Church, Dawkins' effusions notwithstanding. (Read entire article.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marie-Antoinette's Shoes

From Catherine Delors. Share

Charles Martel and the Battle of Poitiers

France and Europe were saved.
In 732 Abd-er-Rahman, Governor of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an immense army, overcame Duke Eudes, and advanced as far as the Loire, pillaging and burning as he went. In October, 732, Charles met Abd-er-Rahman outside of Tours and defeated and slew him in a battle (the Battle of Poitiers) which must ever remain one of the great events in the history of the world, as upon its issue depended whether Christian Civilization should continue or Islam prevail throughout Europe. It was this battle, it is said, that gave Charles his name, Martel (Tudites) “The Hammer”, because of the merciless way in which he smote the enemy.(Read entire post.)

The Miracle of Saint Kateri

A little boy is healed.
— Jake Finkbonner was so close to death after flesh-eating bacteria infected him through a cut on his lip that his parents had last rites performed and were discussing donating the 5-year-old's tiny organs. 

Jake's 2006 cure from the infection was deemed medically inexplicable by the Vatican, the "miracle" needed to propel a 17th century Native American, Kateri Tekakwitha, on to sainthood. Kateri will be canonized on Sunday along with six other people, the first Native American from what is now the U.S. to receive the honor. 

Jake is fully convinced, as is the Catholic Church, that the prayers his family and community offered to God through Kateri's intercession, including the placement of a Kateri relic on Jake's leg, were responsible for his survival. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Death of Queen Maria Carolina

The passing of Marie-Antoinette's favorite sister.
In her affliction, she wrote to her daughter, the Duchess of Genevois, afterwards Queen of Sardinia:
 Nothing on earth moves me any more; my fate was settled and decided the day that I was chased like a play-actress and thrust out of Sicily…. My life is ended in this world…. I am no longer interesting except to a few old women who never stir out of their own doors, but who come to see the last of the great Maria Theresa’s children. The Prater is in its lovely green and full of flowers; but nothings seems beautiful to me any longer.
A few days later—the old Queen died of a sudden attack of apoplexy in the little chateau of Hetzendorf, beside Schönbrunn, where her great-grandson, the former King of Rome, was living. Marie Caroline had been a woman whose faults and whose qualities were alike extraordinary. Napoleon, who once used such violent and insulting language respecting her, ended by citing her as a model worth imitating in his correspondence with King Joseph. “That woman,” he wrote to his brother, “knew how to think and act like a queen, while preserving her rights and her dignity….” (Read entire post.)

Royal Treasures from the Louvre

In San Francisco.
By the late 18th century, Paris was acknowledged as the cultural capital of the world, and royalty and the aristocracy developed an unprecedented taste for luxury and comfort. “They lived in smaller rooms and the objects produced for them were finely and intensely decorated because they were so close to the viewer,” says Chapman. Rather than living in public in grand state rooms, the king embraced a more private, less formal mode of entertaining, often without servants. Many of these objects were designed to be used by the owners themselves, such as the magnificent solid gold coffee grinder made for Madame de Pompadour, the famous mistress to Louis XV.

Louis XVI continued to support both the Sèvres porcelain factory and the Gobelins manufactory (which by this time produced tapestries exclusively)—among others—after his coronation in 1775. His queen, Marie-Antoinette, commissioned elaborate furniture and decorative objects for her tiny private apartments at Versailles, and also revived the princely tradition of collecting hard-stone vases. Guided by Enlightenment ideals, the king put parts of the royal collection on view to the public and also acquired the most important hard-stone vases and furniture of the day for the foundation of a new museum in the Louvre. Unfortunately, events overtook him before this project could be realized. Economic hardship, caused by years of bad harvests, foreign interventions, and resistance to reform, fomented unrest in France, and public opinion began to turn against the king and the royal family. This unrest eventually led to revolution and Louis XVI was executed in January of 1793. Just eight months later, the Louvre, now designated as a collection for the people of France, opened to the public. (Read entire post.)

More HERE. Share


Dorothy Rabinowitz on the last four years.
In the books yet to be written about this presidency, the Obama administration's exceptional readings of reality will deserve an honored place, and a large one. One that should also acknowledge the fact that, in the end, the American people inevitably recognize the difference between lies and truth, illusion and the real thing.

The most telling example of this capacity—the October surprise that shouldn't have been surprising—came with the first presidential debate. The nation saw a superbly cogent Mitt Romney, speaking to them in terms instantly recognizable, words without artifice that addressed their real lives. Viewers saw the life in him, the play of mind, felt the sense of powerful will—that of a leader. It didn't matter all that much that the president looked most unpresidential, a man lost. What mattered was the other man before them, who had brought home to Americans what they had been missing the past four years. (Read entire article.)
More commentary HERE and HERE. Share

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Wedding in Luxembourg

The wedding of Crown Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg to Comtesse Stéphanie de Lannoy on October 20, 2012 must be one of the most beautiful ever. Pictures can be seen HERE and HERE. Share

The Lady Guide to Modern Manners

On complaining in public. To quote:
It's a shame, because in Britain, for complex reasons, some of them good, we don't do anything like enough complaining – or, should I say, providing honest, constructive feedback. Exhibitionists such as your fellow passenger give complaining a bad name.

With my marvellous grasp of history, I trace it back to the 1980s. The new 'service culture' of that decade swept away the long suffering mentality of the previous decades. Which was all well and good, but a hard-bitten minority who complain about everything and always want money off, or back, had a field day. Now, post banking crisis, it's all rather different. Let's hope businesses will answer back.

If you have to complain, be discreet about it. In restaurants and hotels the conspicuous complainer, however justified, might spoil the enjoyment of others who have no complaint. (Read entire article.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Fall Festival in a Small Town

Trappe, Maryland.
In days of old, people derived their surnames from a chosen profession. Many affluent and influential people were honored by having towns, counties, and states named after them. Tilghman was named after a powerful family whose members held pivotal roles in the Revolutionary War. Talbot County is named for Lord Baltimore’s sister, Lady Grace Talbot; and Maryland was named to honor Queen Henrietta Maria, Charles I’s wife.

Of course, there are town names whose origins have been lost to history. One such town is Trappe. It sits small and unassuming, nestled between fields of corn and soybeans. Most likely founded in the late 1770s, the town’s naming is an enduring mystery.

One of the more alluring tales of how it acquired its name concerns a French widow who is said to have a somewhat notorious past.  She owned a tavern where men would congregate to drink and play cards. Wives anxiously seeking their spouses were often informed that they could be found at “The Trap.”

Others theories include the possibility that the town moniker was derived from a local monastery of Trappist monks from France, or that it was a good location for trapping. Whatever the origins of the name, the town, and its surrounding areas, has sat steadfastly by, never growing to inhabit more than 1,500 people. (Read entire article.)

Post-Conciliar Crisis

"The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient." To quote Fr. Mark:
If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavours to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.

If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents. Even the initiative to create a Pontifical Council for the promotion of the new evangelization, which I thank for its special effort for the Year of Faith, is to be understood in this context. Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual "desertification". In the Council's time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Forward Boldly

Tonight I will be interviewed by Christine Niles of Forward Boldly on Blog Talk Radio at 10pm Eastern Time. We will be discussing Marie-Antoinette and her family and other topics as well. To join the discussion, please call (626) 226-1464. If you miss the live broadcast then you can still listen to it, HERE. Share

Fall Farmers' Market

I love farmers' markets, especially this time of year. Williams-Sonoma has some great suggestions about what food to get (figs, kale, beets, pumpkin, etc.) and how to prepare it.
Flush with pumpkins, greens and fall fruits, autumn is a beautiful time at the farmers’ market. Unlike delicate summer corn and berries, fall ingredients tend to be sturdy and hearty — and that means they can hold up well in the kitchen.

Our smart shopping strategy: early in the week, use fruits and vegetables that taste best just after harvest, and store the rest to enjoy later in the week. Use our guide and recipes below to get inspired. (Read entire post.)
Pumpkin dessert recipes, HERE. Share

A Guide to Stemware

A video on which wine glass to use.
Three things we learned about BA Wine Insider David Lynch by watching this video: he's not into stemless glasses ("they have stems for a reason"), he rarely bothers with white wine glasses, and he believes in the power of the swirl. It says, "I am someone to be reckoned with, I know how to swirl." Are you someone to be reckoned with? Watch and learn. (Read more.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Pilgrimage of Grace

Author Stephanie Mann reports:
The Pilgrimage of Grace began on October 13, 1536, after the failure of the Lincolnshire uprising earlier that month.

Robert Aske, barrister, led the uprising, which soon gathered a following of up to 40,000. Aske presented the peoples’ desires for an end to the suppression of the monasteries and other religious changes, referencing the protection of the Church promised in the Magna Carta! His pilgrim band/army far outnumbered Thomas Howard’s forces, but he wanted to negotiate a solution. Through Norfolk, Henry promised to convene a Parliament in York to address the issues if the rebels disbanded and returned to their homes. Aske also met with Henry in London. When another uprising broke the truce, Aske was arrested and tried. (Read entire post.)

Difficult Anniversaries

Some reflections from author Ellen Gable:
The end of June every year marks two very difficult anniversaries for me. On June 26th, 1986, I was rushed into surgery to remove a tiny baby from my right fallopian tube. This, after already miscarrying a baby from my womb. I woke up in the hospital with the knowledge that I had conceived twins…and I would be leaving the hospital with neither in my arms. (Read entire post.)

A message for grieving mothers from blogger Elena LaVictoire.
The loss of my child changed me permanently.  It made me stronger and gave me a different perspective on everything.  Nothing like finding the answer to "what's the worst that could happen?" to make everything else seem not so bad.  I found a new appreciation for the other people in my life and life's little tragedies just didn't seem as tragic. In many ways, living through a stillbirth made me wiser. (Read entire article.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Restaurant Service

Is it getting worse? According to Bon Appétit Magazine:
 When people complain about restaurants, it usually has nothing to do with the quality of the fritto misto. It's about the service. And these days, with more and more casual spots--think cash only, no reservations--becoming destinations, a service crisis is just around the corner. (Often, if you get a mere "hello" when you walk in, you're doing pretty well.) The surly server is nothing new--ever been to a diner?--but no matter how grumpy his or her delivery, at least you get your order quickly and without judgment. But now, when people will spend hours in line to try a much-tweeted taco, some too-cool-for-school restaurants have started believing their own hype and think that the basic rules of hospitality don't apply to them. Instead of an attitude of "We're so grateful you chose to spend your hard-earned money at our establishment," it's "You should be grateful you even got a table." (Read entire article.)

A Rejoinder

To Straussians and Traditionalist Catholics from The New Beginning:
Both groups have accepted the Yankee nationalist myth, with the traditionalists criticizing the American founding accordingly.

Traditionalists see the United States as a "product of the Enlightenment" under the belief that rights can only be understood within the framework of liberalism, not as curbs on human legislative authority for a different reason. In this case, the Bill of Rights is a curb on the authority of the Federal Government. They do not acknowledge that the United States are more than the federal system. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sparkling Table Settings

Some ideas for entertaining from Southern Living. More on how to set a stunning table, HERE. Share

Edmund Burke and the Constitution

From Russell Kirk:
Constitutions are something more than lines written upon parchment. When a written constitution endures—and most written constitutions have not been long for this world—that document has been derived successfully from long-established customs, beliefs, statutes, and interests; it has reflected a political order already accepted, tacitly at least, by the dominant element among a people.

True constitutions are not invented: they grow. The Constitution of the United States has endured for two centuries because it arose from the healthy roots of more than two centuries of colonial experience and of several centuries of British experience. For the most part, the American Constitution expressed formally what already was accepted, practiced, and believed in by the people of the new republic. A constitution without deep roots is no true constitution at all.

In a symposium at Kenyon College, three decades ago, I expressed such views. Clinton Rossiter dissented. Why, a constitution can be created overnight, he said; just that had been done in many European countries shortly after the First World War and the Second World War.

"Where are those constitutions now?" I inquired. And today one might ask, with equal pertinence, "Where are now the constitutions of the emergent African states, so grandly promulgated in the 1950s and 1960's?" The framers of a successful constitution must take into account the history, the moral order, the resources, the prospects of a country—and much else besides. Those framers must be endowed with political imagination—which is not at all the same thing as political utopianism—and with much practical knowledge of affairs. Otherwise a constitution may live no longer than a butterfly. (Read entire article.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Testimony of an Attorney for the Queen

Here is the testimony of one of Marie-Antoinette's brave attorneys, Chaveau-Lagarde:
The Conciergerie, as is well known, is the prison in which are confined persons due to be judged or those due to be executed after sentence.

After passing through two gates one enters a dark corridor which one could not locate without the aid of a lamp that lights up the entrance. On the right are the cells, and on the left there is a chamber into which the light enters by two small barred windows looking on to the little courtyard reserved for women.

It was in this chamber that the Queen was confined. It was divided into two parts by a screen. On the left, as one entered, was an armed gendarme, and on the right the part of the room occupied by the Queen containing a bed, a table and two chairs. Her Majesty was attired in a white dress of extreme simplicity.
No one capable of sympathetic imagination could fail to realize my feelings on finding in this place the wife of one of the worthiest successors of St. Louis and the august descendant of the Emperors of Germany, a Queen who by her grace and goodness had been the glory of the most brilliant court in Europe and the idol of the French nation.

In presenting myself to the Queen with respectful devotion, I felt my knees trembling under me and my eyes wet with tears. I could not hide my emotion and my embarrassment was much greater than any I might have felt at being presented to Her Majesty in the midst of her court, seated on a throne and Surrounded with the brilliant trappings of royalty.

Her reception of me, at once majestic and kind put me at my ease and caused me to feel, as I spoke and she listened, that she was honoring me with her confidence.
I read over with her the bill of indictment, which later became known to all Europe. I will not recall the horrible details.
As I read this satanic document, I was absolutely overwhelmed, but I alone, for the Queen, without showing emotion, gave me her views on it. She perceived, and I had come to the same conclusion, that the gendarme could hear something of what she said. But she showed no sign of anxiety on this score and continued to express herself with the same confidence.

I made my initial notes for her defense and then went up to the registry to examine what they called the relevant documents. There I found a pile of papers so confused and so voluminous that I should have needed whole weeks to examine them. (Read entire post.)

The Savage Truth

Journalist Nat Hentoff speaks of the unspeakable.
On the one hand, I cannot vote to re-elect President Barack Obama, who more than any other president in our history continuously exceeds the constitutional limitations of the executive branch. For example – one of many I’ve documented – Obama, without going to a judge, regularly selects those who are to be assassinated from a “kill list”; this includes American citizens suspected of being associated with terrorists.
But I have other reasons for not possibly voting for him. One is that no previous president has been so radically pro-abortion as Obama, who, when he was in the Illinois Senate, voted three times against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. The bill would have ensured that if a live baby fully emerged before an abortion was successfully completed, he or she was to be saved.

To let this legislation die would be an act of infanticide, but it did not pass while Obama was in the Illinois Senate. (Read entire article.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wrapped Up: God's Ten Gifts for Women

Wrapped Up by Teresa Tomeo and Cheryl Dickow is a book for quiet reflection, focusing on ten aspects of the spiritual journey, including God's love and forgiveness, a joyful attitude, suffering and the sacraments. Each chapter is divided between the two authors, as Cheryl shares insights about the matriarchs of the Old Testament and Teresa provides data and anecdotes about the struggles faced by contemporary women. Both writers include snippets from their lives and how they have each found deeper peace in their vocations as Catholic women through becoming open to the gifts which God gives.

Teresa comments on the discouragement with which so many women must contend, and which can be an obstacle to having a healthy spiritual life.
In addition to the personal baggage we carry, the other signals constantly received or detected on the private sonar remind us that unless we can feed the family with  a fabulous 'yummo' Rachel Ray dinner in thirty minutes or less, raise perfectly polite and poised Harvard-bound children, look like Angelina Jolie, and earn at least a six-figure income, we might as well throw in the towel....(p.9)
Teresa cites several studies which show the steady decline of self-esteem in women and girls, especially in how they view their bodies. With all that is now available to women and all the "freedoms" we have, we are still miserable about how we look and how we live, more miserable than ever. It is a sad commentary about our modern world.

The answer, of course, is found only in acknowledging that we each have worth in the eyes of God and are part of His infinite plan. As Cheryl says in the chapter on the gift of suffering:
I am very conscious that, without my illness, I probably would not be in pursuit of knowing, loving and serving God — all in spite of my sins and shortcomings. It was how God called me to himself. Through my suffering, Christ allowed me to discover the richness of my Catholic heritage and develop a personal relationship with him. I persevere toward heaven with confidence, knowing that I am a loved sinner with a place in God's kingdom. (p.53)
Peace is to be found only in doing God's will, not in the vain and fleeting phantoms of worldly happiness, by which we are so often deceived. It appears that more than ever women are led astray by the siren songs of earthly achievement as being the purpose of living; it is only through a strong interior life that we can remain grounded in the realities that are everlasting.

I can see this book provoking lively discussions in a women's prayer group or book club as well as being useful on a private retreat. A Companion Journal is also available in order to hone one's growth experiences and record personal reflections.

(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)


Richard III and the Lost World of Greyfriars

Author Nancy Bilyeau shares a fascinating history.
The benefits' bestowed by the Franciscans are beyond question. They espoused the importance of fresh water and built conduits to their friaries, shared by citizens in half a dozen cities. In 1256, they intervened along with the Dominicans to protect a group of Jews who were accused of crucifying a Christian child. As a result, a chronicler said, Londoners gave the Franciscans less alms.

What is interesting is how often the Franciscans interjected themselves into politics. Simon de Montfort, the founder of Parliament and thorn in the side of Henry III, was advised by Franciscans. In a later reign, the friars based in Leicester got into even more serious trouble. They openly supported the deposed Richard II instead of the new king, Henry IV. When word got out, a group of nine were brought to London, tried, and executed. It would not be the last time the Franciscans paid a terrible price for being on the losing side.

But these episodes were nothing compared to what happened after the creation of the Observant Friars of Greenwich. A movement had sprung up in Europe calling for greater asceticism in the Franciscan Order.  King Edward IV, despite his devotion to wine, women and the latest fashions, approved, and  in 1480 Pope Sixtus IV sanctioned the foundation of a friary specifically for the Observants in Greenwich. "The proximity of the Observant Franciscans to what was a much-used royal palace gave them an influence and a prominence far beyond what might have been expected," wrote G.W. Bernard in The King's Reformation.

There is no record of what Richard III thought of the Franciscans, Observant or otherwise, but considering that they braved a ferocious political climate to give him Christian burial, the relationship could only have been good. His successor, Henry VII, rather surprisingly, held the friars of Greenwich in the high esteem as well. He confirmed their grant, arranged for the installment of stained glass in their church, and left them 200 pounds in his will as he "knew that they had been many times in peril of ruin for lack of food."

But perhaps the greatest sign of Henry VII's regard for the Observant Franciscans is that he chose to have his second son, the future Henry VIII, baptized in their chapel at Greenwich. (Read entire post.)

A Nevill Feast features a summary of her studies on Richard III. To quote:
At fourteen, I might have been enthralled by the portrait of a young man, deeply loyal to his family, deeply faithful to the woman he loved and married (and kind to the young girl who was once his mistress), strong in war, soft in love… But the older I get, the less that satisfies me. He was a man who married his wife at least in part for her property, who connived in the financial ruin of his mother-in-law in the process, who took his nephew’s throne (whatever the pretext, and however valid this pretext was), who ordered the executions of several men without trial, whose loyalty to Edward IV didn’t survive his death, who faced rumour, rebellion and invasion during his short reign… a man I want to get to know better, and not through biassed sources (one way or the other). I’d also love to discuss all this without feeling that I’m stepping outside received dogma. I was likened to an atheist not that long ago, someone who comes into a church and announces loudly that God is Dead. Apart from the disturbing image of an interest and support of Richard III as a religion, I don’t know enough to announce anything except: I don’t know.

I don’t know if Edward IV’s relationship with Eleanor Butler included a marriage, or precontract; I don’t know if this was enough to have his children declared illegitimate; I don’t know what happened to the boys. I’m reliably informed that, one night, a barge came up the Thames and the boys were taken aboard and sent to safety in Flanders. Without anyone knowing except those involved, and without any of them telling anyone else about it. Ever. And without either of the boys resurfacing in adulthood. (Perkin Warbeck, in my considered opinion, wasn’t the young Richard Duke of York. And, even if he was, he said that his brother had been murdered on Richard’s orders. This is not good news in light of Richard’s reputation. I’ve never understood how anyone can reconcile these two things: wanting Perkin to be young York, yet dismissing his own words regarding the fate of his brother.) I don’t know if they were spirited away to Flanders. On balance of evidence, it would seem not, and those who favour this theory have no evidence of it. I’m equally reliably informed, on an equal lack of evidence, that sir James Tyrell slipped into their quarters one night and smothered them both with a pillow, after which they were buried in the Tower, under a staircase. I don’t know if that happened, either.

I do know that William Hastings, Anthony Wydeville, Richard Grey and Thomas Vaughan were executed without trial. I do know that the young princes disappeared on Richard’s watch. I do know that he colluded with his brothers and his wife to have his mother-in-law financially ruined and declared dead. I also know he was a good soldier, that he and his queen seemed to have a good marriage, that he took care of his illegitimate children and loved his only legitimate child, that he had the makings of a pretty good king. And I want to know more. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vienna Before the War

As seen through the eyes of a milliner. To quote:
In the 1930s, Demel's pastry shop and chocolatier on the Kohlmarkt in Vienna was the height of Austria's beau monde. Its little round tables were made of marble, the walls were of blue silk and magnificent crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. To it came women on shopping trips, courting couples and gentlemen and their lady friends, to gossip and eat Sachertorte and buy the violet sweets so beloved by Empress Sisi. One regular customer was Trudi Kanter, a young milliner whose showroom was not far away.

Trudi had bright red hair, often tucked into one of her chic little hats, and she was very beautiful; her business prospered. She filled her apartment above the showroom with Biedermeier furniture and kept two ornamental love birds in a gilt cage. In her showroom she employed 12 girls of whom she was very fond; the atmosphere was one of warmth and gaiety. Many of her rich and elegant customers, all part of Vienna's charmed life, were friends. Trudi was Jewish.

And then, in March 1938, the Germans marched in, bringing with them Nazi hooligans, oppression and anti-Semitism. There are some scenes, some historical events, that only memoirs can convey with real immediacy. Trudi Kanter's "Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler" is full of them. As befits a milliner, she has a remarkable eye for detail, the precise color of the plumes on her hats, the texture of the cakes at Demel's, the fold of the dresses her customers wear. Of a group of girls in the streets, she writes: "They are slender and well- coiffed, have clear, petal-smooth complexions, wear tiny hats, veils, camellias in their buttonholes." She uses this gift to describe, without hyperbole, what followed.

Hitler sent 100,000 soldiers into Austria. She listened to them arrive, the thud of perfectly marching feet, as she crouched in the dark in her apartment. Within hours, they were rampaging around Vienna, seeking out Jews. Houses and businesses were looted. The headquarters of the Vaterländische Front, the nationalist party that had opposed the Anschluss, was smashed to pieces just opposite her showroom. Later, when anti-Nazi slogans appeared on the pavements, Jewish men and women were made to scrub them off, on their hands and knees, using acid that burned their skin raw. Vienna was soon in the grip of informers, janitors paying off old scores, maids telling on their employers. (Read entire article.)

The Flight from Hell

From First Things:
The trivialization of hell and its dangers is one of the great maladies of post-Conciliar thinking. The British author Piers Paul Read rightly asks: “Why in particular are we so rarely warned that we run a real risk of spending eternity in torment?” Read complains that “while it is right to warn that smoking will cause the death of the body, it is intolerable to point to sins that might lead to the death of the soul.” It is a problem that reaches far beyond the Catholic Church, as seen by the controversy among Evangelicals over Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins.

The modern flight from hell usually takes one of three forms: outright denial, passive indifference, or—indirectly—belief in universal salvation. The latter has become increasingly attractive to certain Christians, for it allows them to declare their full belief in hell and its eternity while at the same time promote the idea (even though they cannot guarantee it) that no one actually goes there. An empty hell is nothing to fear, or spend one’s life trying to teach about, or avoid. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13, 1917: The Dance of the Sun

October 13, 2012 marks the ninety-fifth anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, when the sun swirled in the sky, a phenomena witnessed by thousands of people. The three children-- Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta-- saw Our Lady appear as the joyful Virgin Mother, the Sorrowful Mother, and finally as Our Glorious Lady of Mount Carmel. They also saw St. Joseph in the sky, holding the Child Jesus. In his book entitled St. Joseph, Fatima, and Fatherhood, Monsignor Joseph A. Cirrincione offers some thought-provoking reflections.
The role of the priest in relation to Christ is strikingly analogous to the role of St. Joseph in relation to God the Father. Just as the Eternal Father willed to share His Fatherhood with St. Jesus willed to share His Fatherhood with the priest....
Likewise, "the sun stands out in a special way as a symbol and figure of God, and also of His Church...." Monsignor goes on to say that at Fatima "the 'miracle of the sun' represents not so much a threat of evils to come as it does a foreshadowing of the dethronement of God the Father, and an intimation of the appalling consequences inevitably to follow." One month after the "dance" of the sun in Fatima, the Communists took control of Russia.
The combination of atheism and secularism-- which practically speaking amounts to the universal and official rejection of the Fatherhood of God by mankind across the entire face of the earth....And I believe it was foreshadowed by the 'miracle of the sun' at Fatima in 1917.

Rejection of the Fatherhood of God by the vast majority of mankind inevitably has set in motion a chain reaction of consequences affecting fatherhood under every aspect that we have considered here. The notion of fatherhood in many families, for example, has been reduced to a biological fact. And the role of the father as the head of the family has completely gone out of style...the disintegration of the family inexorably and inevitably is leading to the disintegration of society itself....But the spirit of anti-fatherhood has entered even the Catholic Church. Recognition of the fatherhood of the Vicar of Christ...has eroded to an alarming degree...the role of priestly fatherhood is now coveted by women, seeking to escape the noble destiny which God has prepared for their sex, but which nevertheless they are taught to regard with drudgery.
Our Lady of Fatima's remedy for societal and moral ills is the prayer of the rosary, consecration to her Immaculate Heart (symbolized by wearing the brown scapular), and the loving performance of our daily duties. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for Christians to perform the most basic duties of their individual states of life. Yet it is the fulfillment of our ordinary duties upon which our salvation depends. Let us have an ever increasing confidence in the prayers and protection of the Mother of Mercy. Share

The Nun and The Duchess

Some words of wisdom from Mother Mectilde de Bar to the Duchess of Orleans.
It will be impossible for you to keep on much longer if you are going to let your afflictions weigh you down so. Our Lord wills that your soul should rise above all that surrounds you. Attach yourself gently to God. You possess Him, in faith, within yourself. You needn't search for Him long. He wants you to be renewed in His Spirit. Your suffering nature, which, I see, has almost no vigour, needs to make a little effort. It mustn't happen that so beautiful an offering* be consumed in any fire other than that of of pure and divine love; this would be to fall short of God's designs on your soul. Your soul cannot ignore that you are being led by the gentleness and love that make one rest in God. Simply surrender all that you are to His holy Providence. Abandon everything to Him and you will no more be anxious about anything. (Read entire post.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Lady's Toilette

Throughout the ages, getting ready to face the world is no small task for a woman. Gio has some lovely paintings to share.


The Vanished American Hobo

Joshua Snyder quotes Jack Kerouac:
In Brueghel's time children danced around the hobo, he wore huge and raggy clothes and always looked straight ahead indifferent to the children, and the families didnt mind the children playing with the hobo, it was a natural thing. But today mothers hold tight to their children when the hobo passes through town because of what newspapers made the hobo to be -- the rapist, the strangler, child-eater. -- Stay away from strangers, they'll give you poison candy. Though the Brueghel hobo and the hobo today are the same, the children are different. -- Where is even the Chaplinesque hobo? The old Divine Comedy hobo? The hobo is Virgil, he leadeth. -- The hobo enters the child's world (like in the famous painting by Brueghel of a huge hobo solemnly passing through the washtub village being barked at and laughed at by children, St. Pied Piper) but today it's an adult world, it's not a child's world. -- Today the hobo's made to slink -- everybody's watching the cop heroes on TV. (Read entire post.)
Jack wrote this about forty years ago and things have changed. Not only the children are different, but the hobos, too. Share

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Woodville Marriage

In this magnificent picture, painted in the 1920's by Ernest Board, the young King Edward IV presents his new queen, Elizabeth Woodville, whom he had secretly married, to his people at Reading Abbey. It was Michaelmas Day, September 29, 1464. The couple had been married the previous May. The bride was escorted by the King's brother, the Duke of Clarence and his cousin, the Earl of Warwick. According to author Susan Higginbotham:
On May 1, 1464, twenty-two-year-old Edward IV, on his way north to deal with a Lancastrian threat, combined pleasure with business. He left his camp at Stony Stratford for the nearby town of Grafton, where he married Elizabeth Woodville, a widow several years his senior with two small sons and a very large family. The marriage remained secret until September, when Edward IV announced it to his dumbfounded council.

No one knows when Edward IV and Elizabeth met or when they began courting, although Elizabeth’s father, Richard Woodville, had been a member of the king’s council for some time. Chroniclers added various embellishments over the years—that Elizabeth, in difficulty about her dower lands, waited under a tree with her young sons, then threw herself at the king’s feet when he passed by; that Edward IV, at first planning to seduce Elizabeth rather than to marry her, placed a dagger at her throat; that Elizabeth herself put a dagger to her throat—but the couple themselves kept a demure silence on the matter. Even the May 1 date has been questioned by some; Elizabeth’s biographer David Baldwin suggests that it was assigned pursuant to romantic tradition and that the couple actually married later in the summer. What is clear, though, is that as late as April 13, 1464, Elizabeth herself seems to have no idea about the impending nuptials, for on that date she entered into a financial arrangement with her neighbor William Hastings, Edward IV’s boon companion. The arrangement, under which William promised to assist Elizabeth in recovering some of her lands in return for a share of profits, would have hardly been necessary had Elizabeth known she was shortly to be queen of England.

Only one source, Fabian’s Chronicle, details the wedding itself. According to Fabian, no one was present at the early-morning wedding but the spouses, Elizabeth’s mother, the priest, two gentlewomen, and a young man who helped the priest sing. “After which spousals ended, [Edward] went to bed, and so tarried there three or four hours, and after departed and rode again to Stony Stratford, and came as though he had been hunting, and there went to bed again.”

Elizabeth’s mother was later accused by a follower of the Earl of Warwick of having brought the match about by witchcraft. Although she was acquitted of the charge in 1470, it made a reappearance in 1484 in Titulus Regius, the document spelling out Richard III’s claim to the throne, where both mother and daughter are accused of using witchcraft to lure Edward into matrimony. The accusation has provided much fodder for historical novelists and for Ricardians, who have noted with delight that April 30 was St. Walpurga’s Eve and thus a fitting day for Jacquetta to work her black arts in preparation for the marriage the next morning. One Ricardian, W. E. Hampton, in “Witchcraft and the Sons of York” (The Ricardian, March 1980), even suggests that Edward IV’s fatigue at Stony Stratford can be attributed to “the orgiastic nature of the rites to which he may have been introduced.” (More generous minds might attribute his fatigue to three or four hours in the bridal bed, perhaps not sleeping the entire time, plus a journey on horseback to and from Grafton, or one could suppose he was feigning fatigue from his nonexistent hunting trip.) Generally not noted by the Woodvilles-as-witches contingent is the conventional Christian piety Elizabeth exhibited during her time as queen.

Once Edward IV himself made the marriage public, he treated his new bride in duly royal fashion, presenting her formally before his council at Michaelmas in 1464 and giving her a grand coronation the following May. Though little is known about the private relations of the couple, Elizabeth bore the king’s children regularly, a mark of his continuing interest in her even after she had produced the needed “heir and a spare,” and played an influential role in the bringing-up of their eldest son, Edward, a mark of the king’s trust in her. (Read entire post.)

Declining Standards

Declining standards in teaching history.
There is further and shocking evidence of declining educational standards in History in the Daily Telegraph and other newspapers today. It appears that Eton - yes, Eton - is producing pupils who, however seemingly successful in their later careers, leave the school knowing the date of Magna Carta, always associated with Runnymede just down the road from Eton, but not what the two words mean. This is disgraceful. It does not say very much for Citizenship Education. It does not say very much for PPEists with Firsts from Oxford. The Prime Minister should do something about it. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Antiquity at Versailles

Andiron from Marie-Antoinette's bedchamber
There is a new exhibition at Versailles about how the art of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt influenced the decor of the palace and gardens.
A world dominated by the figure of Apollo and designed for the Sun King, the Palace of Versailles is packed with references to Greek and Roman Antiquity and mythology.

From the collections of antique pieces amassed by the kings to the outstanding decorative work featuring the gods and heroes of the Pantheon, this exhibition explores all the relations between Versailles and Antiquity.
For the first time since the Revolution, the Diana of Versailles, the Venus of Arles, the Cincinnatus and some of the most prestigious antiques of the Louvre museum return to Versailles.

Also for the first time, sets of works hitherto scattered around different institutions are brought together again and works invisible to the public for decades are once again on view.

The exhibition design by the theatre and ballet director Pier Luigi Pizzi creates surprises and exciting effects in its original display of the works. The exhibition thus gives us a graphic reminder of the atmosphere that reigned during the monarchical period in the Palace of Versailles, a theatre dedicated to the royal glory whose aesthetic themes were dominated by permanent references to the world of Antiquity.

Practical information

Exhibition from 13 November 2012 to 17 March 2013
Africa and Crimea rooms
Admission included in the Palace and Passport tickets (Read entire post.)